For people looking for passive income opportunities, owning an ATM machine is an option they may want to consider. Of course, one of the first questions you may want to answer is: how much is an ATM?
The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think. It depends on what kind of machine you buy, and there are lots of options. You can buy a new machine, a used machine, a freestanding machine, and there are dozens of technology levels from which to choose. In this article, we will try and give an overview of how much an ATM might cost you based on your purchasing decisions.
Buying a New ATM Machine
When most people buy an ATM, they want to buy a new one. While there are several reasons for this, the main one is that older/used machines are often not EMV chip card compliant. EMV chips cards are the newest generations of credit and debit cards that have replaced the magnetic strips of older cards. The chip cards are significantly safer for users and have reduced the rate of fraud by over 50%. Most major card companies now require ATMs to be EMV compliant, and owners of non-compliant ATMs are often liable for any fraud that occurs on these machines. So, buying a non-EMV compliant ATM means that you either have to pay for costly EMV upgrades or be willing to bear the risk and cost of fraud.
Another reason why most people prefer to buy a new ATM is that they tend to have better appearances and technology. From better screens to offer more services, most customers would prefer to use a new ATM and so most owners would prefer to buy a new machine. New machines are also less likely to have mechanical issues that are costly to fix.
If you are buying a new machine, the cost ranges hugely. Some estimates range from $1,000 – $25,000 depending on the type of machine. However, on average a new traditional free-standing ATM will cost you about $3,000. You can find more details about the range of ATM types and their costs at CostOwl.
Buying a Used ATM Machine
According to CostOwl, buying a used ATM can cost as little as $500. While it is likely that most machines cost somewhat more, it is still clearly cheaper than buying a new machine. However, with savings come tradeoffs.
Firstly, you need to make sure that any used ATM you may buy is in working order. It doesn’t save much money to buy a used ATM that only works for 4 months. Unfortunately, it can be hard to inspect a used ATM before buying it, and after buying it any issues you may run into might be hard to solve. If you do buy a used ATM, we highly recommend that you only buy from large, well-known ATM vendors with long histories of selling quality used ATMs.
It is also very important that you make sure any used ATM you buy is EMV compliant. As we mentioned above, buying a non-EMV compliant machine requires either an expensive upgrade or that you as the owner accept much more liability for fraud on the machine. ATM Depot has a list of discontinued, non-EMV compliant ATM machines to watch out for when buying machines (discontinued machines are listed at the very bottom of the page).
Upgrading Used ATMs
But what if you have a great deal on used ATMs that are not EMV compliant? Can you upgrade them to be EMV compliant? Yes, it is possible to upgrade ATMs to be EMV compliant. However, the cost is estimated at $2,000 – $4,000 per machine, which more than takes away the savings from buying a used machine. In fact, this upgrade cost is more than the average cost of a new ATM. So, buying a non-EMV compliant machine does not make financial sense.
Renting or Leasing an ATM Machine
Before buying an ATM, you should also take some time and look at options for renting or leasing an ATM. If you are an existing business owner looking to provide an ATM for your customers, and not to make a significant profit from the machine itself, it might be easier to just rent a machine. While it will be less profitable, it has no upfront purchase cost and will mean you don’t have to maintain the machine.
Leasing is also an option for anyone who doesn’t have the money to buy a machine outright. Most ATM sellers also have leasing options.
ATM Maintenance Costs
For an ATM owner, the main cost is the purchase price. However, it is also important to research the other costs of owning an ATM. ATMs must be regularly serviced to reload its cash and receipt paper and to fix any mechanical issues that may come up. While you as an owner can perform this maintenance yourself to save costs, many people prefer to outsource this to a specialist company. This is certainly better from a logistics viewpoint, but it does add costs to your machine and so lower your profit.
Is it worth it?
Lastly, before buying an ATM you should calculate the potential profit you could see from owning it. The average ATM fee is $4.61 per transaction. So, if you can place your ATM in a high traffic area that can bring in about 4 transactions a day, then you could see revenue of ~$6,700 a year. Assuming a purchase price of $3,000, that’s over a 200% gross return! And, of course, if you are placing an ATM in your existing business you also get an increase in sales from customers using the ATM cash in your business.
But, of course, you must also consider your costs to maintain the machine. Depending on your situation, these can include renting the ATM location, leasing costs, and servicing costs. In addition, you must also have ‘vault cash’, which is cash on hand to refill your ATM as needed. While this cash is not an ‘expense’ per se, it is a large amount of cash which you must have, and which cannot be used for your actual business.
ATM expenses range too much to estimate the profit of owning an ATM for everyone, but if you want to calculate your own potential profit then you can use this online profit calculator from National Cash Systems. But remember – any potential profit you estimate is only an estimate and is not guaranteed.
Regardless of exactly what kind of ATM you want to buy, you have lots of options. Below are a few ATM sellers and servicers that you can contact for more information.
- Mobile Money claims to be the “#1 ATM Provider in the US”, and they can also provide all installation and servicing for ATMs bought from them.
- America’s ATM services small and medium-sized businesses.
- ATM Depot provides ATM solutions to entrepreneurs and businesses wanting to own an ATM.
- ATM Atom specializes in parts, repairs, and training for ATMs.
- “Purchase an ATM Machine.” MobileMoney.net, MobileMoney.net, https://www.mobilemoney.net/purchase-buy-atm-machine.
- Sliker, Bob. “How to Upgrade Your ATMs to EMV and Stay in Business.” 10 June 2015, http://www.atmatom.com/how-to-upgrade-your-atms-to-emv-and-stay-in-business/.
- Ann, Rissa. “ATM Machine Buying Guide.” Business.com, Business.com, 14 Jan. 2019, www.business.com/articles/atm-buying-guide/?_ga=2.164631999.1658209850.1580513045-3649661.1578862039.
- “How Much Does an ATM Machine Cost?” Cost Owl, Cost Owl, 2020, www.costowl.com/b2b/atm-machine-cost.html?fbclid=IwAR0C1NTgwc-tNI39Qi1pkgXMwHlvCLINDPm07NwqHdyK60rDSkIy4sDzn24.
- Barrington, Richard. “Bank Fees Survey 2019.” Money-Rates.com, Money-Rates.com, 27 Aug. 2019, www.money-rates.com/research-center/bank-fees/.